Most teachers are more than capable of being just teachers. With their grades, they can be more.
Had a Maths tutor with a Cambridge degree. Was shocked that this tutor, with his well-known corporate efficiency, excellent teaching skills, wasn't even a HOD after ten years of service. Why? He had asked curiously.
'Let's face it. The teachers are all incredibly intelligent, diligent and determined people. With their grades and attitudes, they can earn more money working with petrochemicals, in banking and finance, as lawyers, doctors, fund managers, stocks analysts. They are in this line of work, not for the money, but because they enjoy teaching.'
The group had a discussion by the beach. Cool gusts of the night breeze gently swirled, carrying whispers of the revealed self. Was glad for this opportunity to learn that he wasn't alone, that the idealism for guiding others was shared and far more common than he had imagined.
Most of these teachers-to-be spoke of how they were inspired by their own teachers and wanted to make a difference to people's lives. Sounds cliche, doesn't it? After all, MOE had been throwing up such tired lines as campaign slogans to attract fresh blood.
But, in the pale moonlight and the cadence of the sea waves, each revelation was more than cliche. Each word carried magic, power.
Was really flattered and honoured to know such people. To him, it seemed so selfless to give up the tempting allures of material fame and fortune.
He remembered how people always looked at him strangely when he revealed he is going to be a teacher. 'Why?! Your grades are certainly better than just being a mere teacher.' 'Why?! Don't do that. There is no future.' (and his personal favourite) 'Do you have financial problems?'
Outwardly, he smiled and tactfully changed the topic. Inwardly, he cringed.
This ritual in the moonlight had changed his perspectives. In the tent, the guys shared about the shock - not mild surprise but genuine shock - that people would express upon hearing their decisions to be teachers.
Next time, if anyone ever dismisses teaching as a career, he'd prolong the conversation and defend the idea of being a teacher. Not for himself - he doesn't really give two hoots about the numerous unsustained opinions of others.
But for these people - friends? or acquaintances? more than acquaintances (due to the shared secrets) but less than friends (absence of shared history) - he'd articulate with greater clarity and conviction.
He'd no longer be made to feel ashamed of his decision to be a teacher. He'd defend teacher-wannabes, current teachers and ex-teachers.
For those who can, teach.